Consumer reviews are a key part of many businesses. They are most prevalent for restaurants and hotels, of course, but also auto repair, dentists and carpet cleaners. People want to know whom they can trust when hiring someone to provide services.
Surprisingly, this is not the case in the home care industry. Very few agencies have many reviews at all. And, what business involves a greater level of trust than taking care of loved ones?
Fortunately, as the review phenomenon has matured, consumers are more often complimenting than complaining. And, since 2010, reviews have become 65 percent shorter. Many are more like tweets than tombs. These are ideal numbers for home care agencies to exploit.
Not surprisingly, Google is the source of information of choice for 64 percent of online searchers today making it clearly the number one site for consumers. By an even wider margin, Google is the first choice for reading – and writing – reviews. Why is this critical for home care agencies?
Customer testimonials establish trust. Reading the experiences of independent third parties is a form of validation that cannot be rivaled by any sales pitch or advertisement. Any agency owner can say “We provide the most caring, competent home care in the city”, but any such statement is immediately seen as having inherent bias. But, if an existing or former client or member of his or her family says the same thing, it is far more credible.
That being said, a testimonial is only effective if it is real and believable. Any testimonial on an agency’s site can be real. However, if it includes the name of the caregiver and, perhaps a description of a real situation, it rings more truly.
Posting reviews on an agency’s website are powerful, but only if the reader has actually found that website. Public sites are funnels that drive prospective clients to you when they don’t know your name. Further, when reviews are published on third party sites like Google, Yelp or Facebook, they are even more credible because the company that received the testimonial cannot selectively choose which reviews to display.
Reviews have far more impact for smaller businesses than large national ones. They are local, personal and relatable. Outside of a personal reference from a family member or a friend, most home care agencies do not have any kind of reputation – good or bad. When a prospective client, usually a family member, comes across an agency to consider, prospective clients have no feel for the level of trust they can place in that agency. Online reviews and testimonials are the easiest way to put those doubts to rest – at least to generate an inquiry call. From there, the skill of your front line is paramount.
And, it bears repeating: Although on-site testimonials are worth having, third-party sourced reviews come off as more trustworthy. Consumers assume that these reviews are legitimate and not internally produced.
It is simply a fact; client testimonials help an agency to improve their search rankings on Google. Now, if you are in a town with fewer than three competitors, Google rankings don’t mean much to you. But, if you are operating in an area with more competitors, ranking is key. Google only shows three (unpaid) ads on the front page of a local listing (and all home care agencies are inherently local). Those three get 74 percent of all inquiry calls for new service. You want your agency to show up there.
Note: Reviews are not the only factor in deciding which agency ranks where. Other factors include the structure of the website, how many other sites link back to it and how many places your agency is listed in other directories besides Google. (To check how you fare on that score for free, go to www.bit.ly/mysites18.) Wait for an auto-generated email for full results. The online results you get immediately are incomplete.
Getting More Reviews Quickly
Rowan Reputation Resources has developed software specifically for home care agencies that makes it easy to get reviews from clients of any age immediately without any typing on their part. To learn how it works, simply send us a note on www.RowanReputationResources.com/contact-us.